The U.S. Senate
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
— The Constitution, Article 1, Section 3 (as amended)
In the United States Senate all states are represented equally. Regardless of size or population, each state has two senators, who serve six-year terms. Unlike the House of Representatives, where all members must stand for election every two years, only one-third of the Senate’s seats are filled with each general election. Longer, overlapping Senate terms provide Congress with stability and continuity, and lessen the immediate pressure of public opinion on members of the Senate. Until the 1913 ratification of the Constitution’s 17th Amendment, Senators were elected by the legislatures of their respective states.
The Senate shares full legislative power with the House of Representatives. In addition, the Senate has exclusive authority to approve–or reject–presidential nominations to executive and judicial offices, and to provide–or withhold–its “advice and consent” to treaties negotiated by the executive. The Senate also has the sole power to try impeachments.
Criteria for Being a Senator
- Must be a minimum of 30 years of age
- Must be a citizen for 9 years
- Must be a resident of the state represented at the time of election